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Passwordless SSH logins on Linux

You Shall Not Password - Password-less SSH login

Passwordless SSH logins offer vast security improvements over standard password login. Additionally once setup passwordless logins offer a convenience of not having to enter a password when logging in from the same system.

Optimize XBMC / Kodi Cache Settings on Linux

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Prior to changing cache settings install Kodi on Arch Linux. The default cache size in XBMC / Kodi is quite conservative especially when considering high bitrate streams. This lack of buffer can cause “Cache is Full” errors when streaming video and a general poor streaming performance. Increasing the cache should fix this issue. Cache settings are changed manually by editing advancedsettings.xml file which also has more cache related settings that can improve streaming.

Configure Email Notifications on Arch Linux

arch-linux-email-logo Email system notifications can be used to warn of system issues like failing hard drives or failed backup scripts. To send emails a mail server can be configured but it is more complicated than it needs to be for simple notifications. Another issue with a local mail server is that some ISP’s may be blocking outbound emails making this method potentially unreliable.

A simpler alternative is to let an external mail service like Gmail send the actual email. To achieve this s-nail mail processing system will be used with the optional SMTP extension. The downside of this approach is that you will need to store you password in a plain text configuration file and allow “less secure apps” in Google settings. To avoid compromising the primary email account I opted to create a dummy account just for sending system notifications. This way, even if the Gmail account is compromised there is no real harm as no Emails are stored in that account.

Configure Automated SMART Checks on Arch Linux

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SMART tests can give an early warning of impending hard disk failures. Tests can be run manually but this is inconvenient and results are not available immediately. Thankfully smartd can be used to run these tests automatically and email if any warnings occur. Before configuring automatic SMART monitoring you need to install smartmontools and check hard drives for SMART errors to make sure there are no failing hard drives. Smartmontools package also includes smartd daemon which will be used to run SMART tests automatically.

Check Hard Drives for SMART Errors on Arch Linux

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SMART tests can give an early warning of impending hard disk failures. On most Linux distributions smartmontools package can be used to execute SMART scans. The package consists of smartctl utility which controls and monitors SMART disks and systemd daemon. Only smartctl is needed to run SMART tests manually but smartd is also required to Configure Automatic SMART Error Checks on Arch Linux.

Enter Chroot Environment in Arch Linux

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When things go wrong to the point where recovering from the operating system is not possible chroot may the only practical way to recover a broken system. Chroot or change root gives access to otherwise inaccessible system and allows execution of commands within the system. To chroot into the system you will first need to Boot Arch Linux from USB or CD.

Fix “Unable to find root device” Error in Arch Linux

Fix "Unable to find root device" Error in Arch Linux

After a recent major update on Arch Linux which included a new kernel my system became unbootable. It is yet another lesson to be careful with Arch Linux. Thankfully regardless of how serious the issue seemed it can be solved with relative ease. You will need to boot Arch Linux from USB or CD and enter Chroot environment in Arch Linux to fix the issue.